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Chicago Food and Travel Photographer

Chicago Lightning Storm - June 30th 2014

28mm f4.0 5.0sec ISO 100

28mm f4.0 5.0sec ISO 100

On June 30th 2014 a massive lightning storm rolled through the midwest and hit the Chicago area. The storms were so strong that they knocked out power for much of the Chicago southern suburbs. The storms rolled in very quickly and before I realized it the sky was almost black and the rain started pouring down. As I peered out the window of my condo I saw repeated strikes of lightning hitting many of the downtown buildings and then as the storm rolled over the lake, there were massive strikes over Lake Michigan. About 45 minutes into the storm, things calmed down. I was pretty bummed that I didn't get to a good vantage point to watch the storm. Just after the rain started to subside I checked the radar map and there was a second wave of the storm that looked more severe than the first. I was packing my camera bag when my friend texted me a picture of the lightning from his place. He asked if I wanted to come over and shoot and I quickly finished packing my camera bag and headed out. 

Here it comes!

My friend lives just west of the city so he has a great view of the skyline. From his balcony you can see both the Hancock Building and the Trump Tower. Both act as massive lightning rods during storms like these. I set up my tripod on his balcony and we waited. The storm was still a little while away so I had time to make sure all my settings were correct. I had a disposable rain cover for my camera and lens and it came in handy on that night. At first I set up my camera on the balcony but as the storm rolled in the rain got very intense, so much that you could barely see the skyline. I brought my camera inside for about 10 minutes and reformatted my memory card. I had a remote trigger set up on my Nikon D800 and had the shutter set to a 4-6 second exposure. Once the severe rain subsided I set up my tripod outside and let the camera do the work. As the shutter continued to click away we watched the show from inside.

28mm f4.0 5.0sec ISO 100

28mm f4.0 5.0sec ISO 100

I've never seen a storm quite like this one. Every few seconds a huge bolt of lightning lit up the Chicago sky. As I captured shots we went out on the balcony to see the images. I'm very happy with the final results. I love storms and the magic of capturing lightning. Hopefully we will get a few more great storms this summer but this one was definitely special. 

28mm f4.0 5.0sec ISO 100

28mm f4.0 5.0sec ISO 100

28mm f4.0 5.0sec ISO 100

28mm f4.0 5.0sec ISO 100